Auckland's alcohol-related harm worst in New Zealand

By Martin Johnston

Young people in Auckland are NZ's heaviest drinkers. Photo / Dean Purcell
Young people in Auckland are NZ's heaviest drinkers. Photo / Dean Purcell

A check on the harms of alcohol shows Aucklanders perform worse than the rest of New Zealanders on three counts.

The assessment by agencies committed to reducing alcohol-related harm shows:

• The rate of alcohol-related crashes for Auckland drivers is 28 per cent above the national rate

• Eight per cent of adult Auckland drinkers consume more than eight drinks in a typical session, compared to a national average of 6.5 per cent

• Hospital admissions that can be attributed to alcohol in Auckland are 11 per cent higher than the national rate.

Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said the assessment, made public today, is deeply concerning and reinforces the need for action to reduce alcohol harm.

"We wanted to share the findings with Aucklanders so they were more aware of the issues, and could all be part of creating a safer, healthier city.

She said young people in Auckland were New Zealand's heaviest drinkers.

"We have larger numbers of late-trading liquor outlets - per 100,000 population 15 years-plus - than there are nationally, and until the end of last year these were allowed to operate 24/7.

"Liquor outlets have also been allowed to concentrate in parts of the city and this influences things like opening hours, exposure to alcohol advertising and pricing - all linked to harm outcomes and increased vulnerability of some population groups."

She said it was important that the information from the assessment was taken into account in the current deliberations over Auckland's local alcohol policy.

The provisions for local alcohol policies in the 2012 alcohol legislation provided some tools to reduce the availability and accessibility of alcohol. They were a "golden opportunity" to reduce alcohol-related harm in Auckland.

Yvonne Matson, of the Otara Gambling and Alcohol Action Group, said: "We have got far too many liquor outlets, that are open for too many hours and who are promoting alcohol to our community 24/7. The harm follows."

Steve Schroder, of the Takapuna Central Residents Group, said people living near in his area's bars regularly saw and heard the problems caused by alcohol, including severe drunkenness, anti-social behaviour, excessive noise, violence and property damage.

Both groups want tighter controls on alcohol availability than those proposed in the Auckland Council's draft local alcohol policy.

An economic consultant for the hospitality industry association, Fraser Colegrave of Insight Economics, said "there is also a strong body of evidence showing that alcohol-related harm in Auckland is in rapid decline, and that Auckland's rates of alcohol-related harm are actually quite low across several measures."

The snapshot assessment was produced by Dr Taisia Huckle of Massey University's SHORE (Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation) and Whariki Research Centre. It can be read below:

Mobile users: Tap here to view the 'Alcohol-related Harm' document

- NZ Herald

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